How to make the most of the Leicester Square Christmas Market
When heading out to the Leicester Square Christmas Market, don’t spend more than 2 hours there because the Christmas Market there is small, and it’s situated in the square. If you’re on a budget, don’t splash so much on Christmas gift items, as some stalls can be expensive since it’s handmade, and ethical. There are some stalls that are reasonably priced. £10 – £20 is considered relatively priced, an anything between £30+ and upwards are generally expensive.
Take your time when you get there. People usually browse casually and go window shopping, listen to Christmas music, and visit Santa’s Grotto for the children, but they won’t spend more than 2 hours there. Le Clique is a pop-up circus show for the adults, although it’s not free, it’s worth checking out. More on that below. In Leicester Square, Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, and mid-range restaurants like steakhouses, Italian, and British pubs are available for you to try.
Introduction to the Leicester Square Christmas Market
The Christmas Market in Leicester Square starts from early November right to the first week of January, but dates and time vary every year. You can get there on the Bakerloo Line, Piccadilly Line and the Northern Line and stop at Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross Station, or Leicester Square. Christmas in Leicester Square can be very festive, and it’s fun for all the family. You can enjoy Christmas in Leicester Square day and night, and can be very festive, and fun for all the family. For some people, Christmas is the time to enjoy yourself with your loved ones, getting together and drinking mulled wine and carve turkey at a huge table singing “Tis the season to be jolly”. For some, it’s too stressful to even be shopping for Christmas presents, especially in the busy streets of London. The Christmas markets in London aren’t the ones to take for granted though, with its simple Christmas lights while being festive at the same time compared to its European competitors.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like if you weren’t stressed out looking for Christmas presents? Well, it’s not that stressful when shopping for Christmas presents there, and you can enjoy your mulled wine minus the turkey, and sing “Tis the season to be jolly” at the top of your lungs.
Do you want to find something different from the high street, something you can’t find anywhere else during Christmas? Well, Leicester Square is the place to be when looking for unique tailor-made Christmas gifts. Plus, don’t miss the home of the spectacular , an acrobatic, circus and cabaret themed show at the heart of Leicester Square. More on this below, and this happens every year so don’t miss it.
Heading to Leicester Square from Southbank Centre
Since I went to Southbank Winter Market beforehand, I headed to Leicester Square to compare and contrast the two markets. As I stepped out of the station, the first thing I noticed was the glittering lights at the top of Hippodrome Casino. The place looked and felt brighter than usual. Hippodrome Casino was showing Magic Mike Live and I loved the ticket office for theatre shows next to it. Across the road, take advantage of the half price booth for theatre tickets where they advertised Mary Poppins. I have to review this soon, see what the terms and conditions are. Right now, let’s focus on Christmas in Leicester Square.
Outside the Christmas Market
Christmas shopping in Leicester Square is less stressful than Christmas shopping in Regent Street and Oxford Street because, the market is right in the middle of the square, the square is not that big, and there’s a selection of stalls selling Christmas decorations, handmade gifts and hot and cold food and drink. Although there’s less stalls than the Southbank Winter Market, there’s plenty to choose from minus the carousel or a Skyrocket, found in the Southbank Winter Market. You can find Le Clique Circus Show and Santa’s Grotto here.
Inside the Christmas Market
The first thing I noticed as I entered the square was the Christmas tree on my right-hand side which said, “Merry Christmas from Laphroaig whisky”. The market was bright with lights and it’s free to get in. There was a security guard at the entrance, but he didn’t check my bag. On the far left, there were a few people lining up to watch the La Clique show and in the middle of the square, there were several stalls.
The theme was the same as the Southbank, the same stalls, the same decorations, the same music, and the same type of people, although you see more children in the Southbank because of the fair rides and children’s Christmas shows. Le Clique is for adults only, but children can visit Santa in Santa’s Grotto. My favourite stalls here are the Czech food and drink stall where you can buy gourmet burgers, French fries, and German sausages. On the roof of one of the stalls, a window opened with a roof made out to look like an attic with hay, baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. There were three stars hanging by the window above, and two Christmas wreaths and lights surrounding the roof. There were plenty of people eating and drinking, lining up to get their share of hot food and drinks. The two stalls were what stood out the most compared to the others.
Santa’s Grotto Leicester Square
As I walked further, I saw that you can buy tickets to see Santa at the Santa’s Grotto for £10. I don’t have any kids but from my friends’ experiences, visiting Santa’s Grotto was a great experience for the family. One of my friends said they bundled the kids together in a wooden cabin, Santa was sitting in front next to a large Christmas tree and colourful presents, he asked each child to write their names on a tag, and what they’d like for Christmas. The children got a present each and enjoyed his presence.
As I walked out of the market, typically, street performers would perform outside the square, and people would be entertained by them. Some street performers can be entertaining, but some can also be cheesy, so it really depends on personal tastes. You’ll see someone street dancing, puppeteers, buskers and many more and it’s usually loud depending on the entertainment. Outside the M&Ms store, during the day, you’ll see artists painting caricatures of famous people, and you can ask them to draw a cartoon version of yourself. I then headed towards Chinatown which links to Leicester Square.
Chinatown was busy, and I could still hear the buskers from Leicester Square. I saw thousands of red Chinese lanterns at the top of the buildings strewn above our heads, however, it didn’t feel very festive to me. This showed me that Chinatown was like any other day during Christmas. I headed over to Shaftesbury Avenue, the theatre district, and I could see the Les Misérables poster hanging at the top of the theatre. I didn’t see any Christmas lights though, it looked like it was a normal day until I reached Piccadilly Circus. I came here in November of 2019, and the Christmas lights would come some time in December around Regent Street and Oxford Street. It was too early. There are plenty of Christmas lights in Leicester Square Christmas lights, you could see small sprinkles of lights dropping from the oak trees, and the lights coming from the market stalls, the restaurants, and the casinos, which made the environment brighter.
From here, you can go to Soho, the nightlife district, Regent Street, Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, the shopping district, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, and Piccadilly Circus. Read my West End Walk for more inspiration.
Back to Leicester Square, I loved the lights all around the square and the buildings. The red carpet covered on the ground, the bright yellow lights on the roofs of the stalls and the trees, and the environment felt festive. I wouldn’t say it’s the best Christmas market in London, but it’s a great social hang out to enjoy the festive period and buy Christmas gift ideas.
It would have been nice if Chinatown and Shaftesbury Avenue were decorated with Christmas lights or have a tree or two, but since it was already bright with the flashing billboard lights from the theatres, they didn’t bother.
The Christmas Market in Trafalgar Square next to Charing Cross Station looked dark, all I could see were three stalls illuminating from far away. The only thing that was spectacular was the tall Christmas tree standing in the middle of the square. There were a few people gathered there too to take photos, but it didn’t look exciting, so I didn’t bother going there.
So, there you go, the Christmas market in Leicester Square brings people together. It’s festive but simple and people do still enjoy being there, whether it be the atmosphere or the decorations and lights. It’s not over the top but bright, however, the downside to it was that most of the products, food and drinks were quite expensive but that’s normal if you go to a city like London. Everything’s expensive, especially during Christmas. Leicester Square Christmas Market deems popular for both tourists and locals. If you want to read more on places to visit in London in December, check it out here.
On the internet, it said that the Christmas market in Leicester Square was the best one in London but, in my opinion, it’s the Southbank Winter Market, since there were more happening there, fair rides, more stalls and a good selection of Christmas products and food and drinks there. Enjoy your winter warmers, sitting in the beer garden, drinking mulled wine, burger, and chips, drink hot chocolate by the River Thames at night or during the day. Hear the hooting of the boats, and people screaming on the Star Flyer and the musical sounds of the bright carousel, feel the fresh cold breeze with your family and friends. There were also more activities for the family, like Circus 1903 compared to Leicester Square, although there isn’t a Santa’s Grotto there. Read more on the Southbank Winter Market.